2009’s action horror comedy “Zombieland” is something of a cult classic, and while not exactly a masterpiece, it’s been admired in its own right for a decade. After many, many years, Columbia brings us a sequel that’s probably way too late. After fans demanded a sequel shortly after the release of the 2009 film, “Zombieland: Double Tap” finally graces us with the characters we love—and it does absolutely nothing new with them. It also doesn’t take us in to any kind of new area of Zombieland that we haven’t seen before, which ends in disappointing returns in a follow up with occasional bright spots.
A decade after the zombie apocalypse, the foursome of Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock have learned to survive in Zombieland and have taken up residence in the now abandoned White House. The foursome has evolved though with Columbus and Wichita getting in to a rut, while Little Rock has grown and is anxious to find her own boyfriend. After Wichita and Little Rock abandoned the guys, Little Rock ventures off alone and comes across a young pacifist named Berkeley. Tallahassee, and Columbus also meet a young bubbly girl named Madison who takes a strong interest in Columbus. As they learn of a new kind of zombie that’s evolved and poses a bigger threat, they head for a much discussed new safe haven known as Babylon.
“Double Tap” has the advantage of casting four big stars at the height of their careers, and yet the writers really don’t do much of anything new with them or this premise. With a bigger budget, director Fleischer could probably open up this world, but everything still feels so small scale. “Double Tap” is a laughless experience that doesn’t offer up any new imagery or unique rules, it just feels like everyone hasn’t done much growing, save for Columbus and Wichita’s relationship. The narrative occasionally gets meta (a certain popular franchise makes a cameo) with the introduction of fellow survivors that resemble Talahassee and Columbus, but they’re more throwaway gags and goofy cameos rather than anything crucial to the narrative.
The movie’s biggest flaw is that it has absolutely no villain or antagonist. Much like the original four pretty much just wander around aimlessly, looking for some kind of minimal goal that they strive for and nothing else. There is the introduction of a new breed of zombie that is much stronger and smarter than the normal zombies lurking around, but the writers do almost nothing with them. There’s no dread, or impending sense or doom, and the heroes don’t seem very disturbed by their presence nor their ability to withstand major gun fire. They’re merely introduced as a device to set the stage for the finale and never put our heroes in real peril at all.
If anything the true stand out is Zoey Deutch as Madison, a hopelessly ditzy, but charming individual who miraculously survives just about every skirmish with the zombies. She’s really the only fully fleshed out new character in the line up (and that’s not saying very much), which includes Thomas Middleditch, Rosario Dawson, Avan Jogia, and Luke Wilson, all of whom are poorly developed and pitifully wasted. The writers build up so much all for no real worthwhile execution. It feels like a big race to the finish to close up the film series altogether, but it’s tedious when we realize these heroes are never in any actual danger. “Double Tap” is a colossal disappointment with a premise that has so many new places to go and wastes every chance.